America's Oldest · Founded 1808

Groucho Returns to the Walnut With Frank Ferrante in An Evening With Groucho

February 15, 2019

Philadelphia, PA: For one night only, Frank Ferrante will perform his acclaimed portrayal of legendary comedian Groucho Marx in An Evening With Groucho. The performance that Variety called “a Tour de Force” will happen on the Walnut Mainstage on Monday, February 25. Ferrante also directed and is now performing in Ken Ludwig’s A COMEDY OF TENORS at the Walnut, on stage now through March 3.

In An Evening With Groucho, award-winning actor and director Frank Ferrante recreates his PBS, New York and London acclaimed portrayal of comedian Groucho Marx in a fast-paced 90 minutes of hilarity. The two-act comedy consists of the best Groucho one-liners, anecdotes and songs including "Hooray for Captain Spalding," and "Lydia, the Tattooed Lady." The audience becomes part of the show as Ferrante engages them throughout the performance in grand Groucho style. Accompanied by his onstage pianist, Ferrante portrays the young Groucho of stage and film and reacquaints us with the likes of brothers Harpo, Chico, Zeppo and Gummo, Charlie Chaplin, W.C. Fields, Marx foil Margaret Dumont, and MGM's Louis B. Mayer.

As a drama student at the University of Southern California, Ferrante was discovered by Groucho's son Arthur. Arthur went on to write Groucho: A Life in Revue, and had Ferrante originate the off-Broadway title role. For that performance, Ferrante was nominated for a NY Outer Critics Circle Award and New York’s Theatre World Award. The show debuted in the West End earning Ferrante a nomination for the Laurence Olivier Award for “Comedy Performance of the Year.” Ferrante first recreated the role on Walnut’s stage as part of the 1992-1993 season. He has been described by The New York Times as "the greatest living interpreter of Groucho Marx's material."

An Evening With Groucho is directed by Dreya Weber, also currently performing in Ken Ludwig’s A COMEDY OF TENORS (her Walnut debut!). Weber has directed extended runs of An Evening with Groucho at Seattle’s ACT, the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, the Pasadena Playhouse, the Bucks County Playhouse, and Cincinnati’s Playhouse in the Park. She most recently directed and choreographed Sensatia at the Faena theater in Miami. An accomplished aerialist, she has conceived aerial choreography for PINK’s Glitter In The Air and Try for the Grammys, Michael Jackson’s This is It, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Madonna, and Cher.

Gerald Sternbach will accompany Ferrante onstage for An Evening With Groucho as the onstage pianist. Sternbach has been traveling with the show for quite some time, accompanying Ferrante and Weber for the extended runs at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Cincinnati’s Playhouse in the Park, and the Bucks County Playhouse. An in-demand music director and accompanist, he has worked with a variety of artists including Mel Brooks, Carrie Fisher, Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Burnett, and Josh Groban.

In the Theatre’s great history, the Marx Brothers also performed on the Walnut’s stage. In 1923, when they were transitioning from vaudeville to the legitimate stage, they debuted their first show I’ll Say She Is. Following critical acclaim at the Walnut, the show went on to tour nationally before opening on Broadway. It was during this show that Groucho’s signature painted mustached was created. Running late for a show one night, he used greasepaint instead of a glued-on mustache. He found it a much easier routine and decided to keep it as part of his routine.

Frank Ferrante will perform An Evening With Groucho one night only at Walnut Street Theatre, Monday, February 25 at 8pm. Tickets are $25 - $37. VIP tickets are $75 and include an exclusive meet and greet reception following the performance. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting or Ticketmaster.

About Frank Ferrante

Frank directed and is currently performing in the Walnut Street Theatre's production of Ken Ludwig's A Comedy of Tenors. Last year at the Walnut, he directed and played the lead role, Pseudolus, in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, acknowledged by the Wall Street Journal as one of the top ten performances in the country for 2017. Described by The New York Times as “the greatest living interpreter of Groucho Marx’s material,” Animal Crackers and A Night at the Opera co-author Morrie Ryskind called him “the only actor aside from Groucho who delivered my lines as they were intended.” Discovered by Groucho’s son Arthur when Frank was a drama student at the University of Southern California, Frank originated the off-Broadway title role in Groucho: A Life in Revue (written by Arthur) portraying the comedian from age 15 to 85. For this role, Frank earned New York’s Theatre World Award and an Outer Critics Circle nomination. He reprised the role in London’s West End and was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award for “Comedy Performance of the Year.” Frank played the Groucho role in the off-Broadway revival of The Cocoanuts and has played Captain Spalding in several productions of Animal Crackers, winning a Connecticut Critics Circle Award for his portrayal at Goodspeed Opera House and a Helen Hayes nomination in Washington, DC at Arena Stage. In Boston, he played the Huntington Theatre in the record-breaking run of Animal Crackers that landed Frank on the cover of American Theatre Magazine. Frank has now performed the Groucho role over 2,500 times in more than 400 cities. Recently, Frank toured An Evening With Groucho for eight weeks in Australia playing 35 cities as well as extended runs at Milwaukee Repertory Theater and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. His other regional roles

include Max Prince in Neil Simon’s Laughter on the 23rd Floor at the Walnut Street Theatre (which Frank also directed); George S. Kaufman in By George (a one-man play written by Frank); Oscar in The Odd Couple and leads in The Sunshine Boys, Lady in the Dark and Anything Goes. Frank directed M*A*S*H star Jamie Farr in the Kaufman & Hart comedy George Washington Slept Here and at the Walnut revivals of Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues, Broadway Bound and Lost in Yonkers. In 1995, he directed and developed the world premiere of the Pulitzer Prize finalist Old Wicked Songs. In 2001, Frank directed, produced and starred in the national PBS television program Groucho: A Life in Revue. Frank has played over 1,200 performances as the comic Latin lover Caesar in the cirque show Teatro ZinZanni in Seattle and San Francisco and in Palazzo in Amsterdam. On television, Frank played a speaking mime on Rob Corddry’s Emmy Award-winning comedy Childrens Hospital and can be heard on the animated series Garfield as the voice of Lyman, Odie’s first owner, and on SpongeBob SquarePants as Patrick’s boss. Frank stars in the web series Caesar’s World now viewable on Funny or Die. He is a question on the TV program Jeopardy. “He took his portrayal of Groucho Marx to New York in 1986.” The answer: “Who is Frank Ferrante?”

About Groucho Marx Ninety-five years ago, Groucho Marx played the Walnut Street Theatre in the Marx Brothers' musical I'll Say She Is. The Walnut was Groucho's favorite theater. The New York Times summed up the comedy genius as “America’s most gifted funny man.” Born Julius Henry Marx on October 2, 1890, Groucho was the third of five sons born to poor immigrant parents Sam and Minnie Marx. Chico and Harpo preceded him. Gummo and Zeppo followed. Straight from the streets of New York's upper Eastside, Groucho was thrust onstage at age 15 as one third of the singing Leroy Trio. Eventually, brothers Harpo, Chico, Gummo and Zeppo joined the act that began as the singing Four Nightingales and evolved into the world's funniest vaudeville act known as the Marx Brothers. After twenty years of touring their act all over the country, the Marx Brothers finally hit pay dirt with a musical comedy called I'll Say She Is. Audiences and critics went wild over the Brothers' irreverent humor, the expert pantomime, the wisecracks, the physical shtick, the outrageous musical talent. Said one local Philadelphia critic about the show, "It was as if a tornado hit town. We've never seen anything like the Marx Brothers." I'll Say She Is moved to Broadway in 1924 and was an instant sensation legitimizing the Marx Brothers as world-class talents. Two more Broadway hits followed - The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers introducing audiences to Groucho's most renowned incarnation - Captain Spalding, the African Explorer. In 1930, Groucho and his brothers moved to Hollywood and changed the face of film comedy forever. There they made Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, Duck Soup, A Night at the Opera, A Day at the Races, Room Service, At the Circus, Go West, The Big Store, A Night in Casablanca and Love Happy between 1931 and 1949. The Four Marx Brothers appeared on the cover of Time Magazine in 1932. As a solo, Groucho launched a career on radio and television with his Emmy Award winning work as the host of the comedy quiz show “You Bet Your Life.” The show flourished for fourteen highly rated seasons from 1947 to 1961 on ABC radio then NBC television. Groucho was a major fixture in 1950's television with his "secret woid" and a duck that dropped from the sky to pay wacky contestants "an extra hundred dollars." In the late 1960's, a renewed interest in the anarchic hijinks of the Marx Brothers swept across the nation - particularly among college age students. Fortunately, Groucho Marx survived long enough to experience his renaissance. He made TV appearances, performed at Carnegie Hall at age 82 and received a special Academy Award in 1974 for “the brilliant and unequalled achievements of the Marx Brothers”. On August 19, 1977 Groucho Marx died at age 86. His final request? "Bury me next to Marilyn Monroe."